Reply To: New to navigation: what paper charts do you recommend?

Ellen Wood

I’m a professional mariner – I navigate big ships for a living, but my real passion is kayaking! I’m always happy to help my fellow kayakers whenever I can because many have helped me. Several years ago, a friend and I also circumnavigated Vancouver Island using only a Chart and compass for navigation – no electronics whatsoever so I’m a big believer in the “old school” methods.

Most local marine stores carry charts as do some kayaking stores. Your best bet would be to go there and pick up a chart catalogue, which is free. The chart catalogue is basically a chart covering the area (in our case, it covers the whole west coast). You can then pick an area you where you’d like to go and it will show you the chart number(s) you will need. They’re colour coded for larger and smaller scales – one red one blue, but I can’t recall which is which. Pick the largest scale ones you can for the area – i.e. the ones that have the most detail but cover the smallest area. You especially need these ones for kayaking because the details are more important for kayakers than anyone else. Please stick with only charts from the Canadian Hydrographic Service (or foreign equivalents), where ever you decide to buy them.

Anyways, I’d be quite happy to discuss these things more if you have questions. You can contact me at I’m working right now – the hours are long and rest is critical. I’m home in about 10 days and can talk further then, but for now I can answer quick questions by email.